Going green. Sustainability. These buzz words are thrown around with increasing frequency these days. More and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon in terms of the actions they are taking to become more sustainable in their end-to-end operations.
With some of the biggest companies hiring a large percentage of women in C-level positions, going to great lengths to sustainably source their raw materials and reduce their carbon footprint, and completely transitioning from burning fossil fuels to investing in bio-sustainable fuels, it can be tough for the little, or even medium-sized guy, to compete.
However, you don’t have to play in the big leagues to make a big impact. There are many things smaller companies can do to become part of the green movement.
These things are easy to implement and won’t break the bank. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the easiest and cheapest solutions businesses have when going green.
Change your lightbulbs
Yes, it can be as simple as that. After all, every little bit helps. By changing all your lightbulbs to LED, you can cut your electricity usage considerably. Even though they cost more up front, they will ultimately save you money and save on electricity.
Keep your cleaning green
Simply switching to green cleaning products makes a difference to the environment. You can use green products or even switch to something completely natural that you can make yourself, such as vinegar and baking soda. This will save a lot of toxic chemicals from ending up in the environment. If you use a cleaning company, then make sure they use green products.
Choose your vendors wisely
You might not have the resources to make big changes to your sustainability just yet, but you can choose vendors who have that kind of power. For example, Hewlett Packard and General Electric have very strict sustainability programs in place. By using companies like this for your office equipment and supplies and other parts of your business, you are also greening your operations.
You can use your company to help support a cause, whether that is a community project that allows you to get out into your local community and make a difference or something on a larger scale. A great example is TOMS Shoes, which was created when the founder saw a need to help children in developing get shoes. For every pair of shoes TOMS sells, someone in need gets a pair of shoes.
Taking it to a smaller, more local scale, you can help with a neighborhood beautification project or raise funds for a local charity. And you can go bigger and commit to raising funds to build a school in a developing country or help with disaster relief somewhere in the world. How do you raise the funds? You can either host a fundraising event or donate a certain percentage of your sales to the cause of your choice.
Recycle and use recycled
Yes, even businesses need to recycle. So, get that paper shredder going and put recycling bins everywhere. But more importantly, use products that are made with post-consumer waste (PWC). This will save our precious trees, which we need to help clear the atmosphere of greenhouse gases. And don’t just go for recycled paper products. This doesn’t guarantee it is made of 100% recycled paper. You only get this guarantee with products marked PCW.
Speaking of reducing greenhouse gases, planting trees is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint. You can participate in a local tree-planting program, buy and plant trees on company property or in a local park, or buy offset credits by contributing to tree-planting efforts on a larger scale. Either way, every tree you plant helps the environment.
Start a work-from-home initiative
It certainly depends on the type of business you run, but if there are opportunities for employees to work from home at least some of the time, this is a fabulous way to help the environment and save money. The more people who work from home, the fewer overhead expenses you will have. And without those people commuting, there will be fewer cars on the road burning fossil fuels.
Carbon offset your shipments
Every company contributes to produce CO2 emissions: in production line, in goods and products shipments, in workplaces cleaning, and so on. The absolute easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint and be part of the green movement is to buy carbon offsets. All you need to do is calculate your shipping carbon emissions and then pay to cancel out your company’s emissions for the year. How does this work? This money will go toward things like developing alternative energy sources or planting trees, but you don’t have to do anything at all except contribute financially!
In the end, it’s everyone’s responsibility to do whatever they can to reduce their impact on the environment, so we have a healthy world to leave our children and grandchildren. And consumers want the companies they do business with to help them do that. According to recent researches, in fact, 88% of consumers want the companies they buy from to be sustainable. That includes small- and medium-sized companies, as well as the giants.
As a business, it’s up to you to do what you can to be sustainable and if that means starting small, then do it. You will find that you will save money with many green initiatives. And as your company grows, so will your ability to go green and reduce your carbon footprint.
For more information about sustainability branding, check out our eBook "Carbon Offset: Certification, Index, and Labels that Can Support Your Brand".